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What encourages you and gives you hope?

I find comfort, peace, and joy in the words of Scripture and the person of Jesus Christ. Before becoming a believer, I hadn’t found this any where else. Where do you get your joy and peace when you go through tough times or disappointments? What gives you confidence that everything will be ok and work out for your good?

Posted: March 1st 2011

Paula Kirby www

I find hope and comfort and confidence in the fact that, despite having lived through a number of very difficult circumstances and events, I have always come through. Friends have helped. But so has an inner resilience, a willingness to face up to reality and adjust my plans and expectations if necessary, and a determination not to let life get on top of me or to approach my life passively. The fact I have been able to do it in the past gives me confidence that I shall be do it again in the future, if necessary – as it no doubt will be, since that’s what real life is like.

This is no airy-fairy or unrealistic belief that 'everything will be ok and work out for my good’. There isn’t the slightest reason why that should have to be so: indeed, the merest glimpse at a newspaper should be enough to convince even the most God-besotted Christian that life for many people is full of tragedy and bleakness, regardless of their religious beliefs. It would be supreme arrogance on my part to assume that I was somehow given divine protection from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or that I was guaranteed a happy ending to them, courtesy of a god who has smiled on me in my suffering but utterly ignored the cries of millions of people far worse off than myself. My confidence comes from a realistic assessment that, in the vast majority of difficulties, there is something practical that I or others can do to bring matters to a bearable conclusion. It is a confidence based in action, not passivity; in taking responsibility for my life and how I deal with what happens to me, and not in sitting back and waiting for a happy ending to be handed to me on a plate.

Christianity strips you of the very self-reliance that is so essential if you are truly to be able to face life with confidence. Christianity teaches you that, without God, you are nothing, you are weak, you are helpless, you are lost. It teaches you that your plans can come to nothing if you fail to seek God’s blessings on them first. It tells you you have no control over your own life, that it is wrong even to seek control over your own life; that your life is altogether in God’s hands, not yours; that all those things that have worked out well for you in the past are down to God’s actions, not your own.

In all these things Christianity lies to you. It deceives you. It defrauds you. It robs you of something essential to your dignity as a human being. And the result? Millions of Christians clinging anxiously to their faith, terrified to engage honestly with the evidence and arguments that show it to be fallacious, unfounded and demeaning. After all, if you’ve accepted the lie that it is only through faith that humans can get through life and deal with the pain and anxiety it inevitably brings, of course you will clutch fearfully at that faith and dread its loss. The rest of us, meanwhile, are simply busy getting on and doing what the faithful have been conned into believing cannot be done.

Posted: March 7th 2011

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Eric_PK

I am not confident that everything is going to be okay and work out for my good. The world could erupt in nuclear war, we could get hit by an asteroid, or some other calamity could befall us. I or somebody close to me could be hit by a car or felled by a major illness.

I think that anybody who thinks that everything will be okay isn’t paying attention; while generally the human condition in the US is vastly better than it was 100 years ago, there’s nothing that ensures that we continue to make progress, so I’m active in things that I think will nudge things in the right direction.

The whole “the next life will be better” thing seems like a really useful belief for those in charge since it encourages people to be satisfied with the status quo, but it doesn’t help the people who have the issues that could be bettered; it would be much nicer for a mother not to have her child die from a preventable disease than for her to feel comforted by the though that the child has gone to heaven.

While my life has been easy compared to many of those in the world (I’ve never had to worry about finding my next meal), I have had to watch my father wither away and die due to alzheimers and my mother has some serious issues as well. It’s not all going to be okay; she’s going to die soon and there’s nothing anybody can do about it.

I get joy from doing things that give me joy. I get peace from trying to do the best that I can. I find it strange that people look for those things from outside of themselves.

Posted: March 4th 2011

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George Locke

Things will only be okay if we work to make them so — not to mention a healthy dose of luck. A happy outcome is by no means assured in life. Anyone who tells you different is selling something.

Posted: March 3rd 2011

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Steve Zara www

I get joy and peace through wonderful friends and my life partner. I get it through reading. I get it through reading the words of teachers of nature who fill my mind with visions of things I can barely imagine. I shut my eyes and imagine being on a world with a different sun, with a nova filling the sky. I imagine the distorted dark close to a singularity. I imagine frosted specs of rock drifting at a cycle-pace through space on the edge of the system of the Sun, perhaps bearing the chemicals of life to who knows where? Often I take mental refuge here on our world, picturing the playfulness of dolphins leaping from the seas, or the comfort of cats curling in the sun, or the crazy games of dogs.

I get it through music, sometimes the soft strings of Sibelius or the drifting repeats of Nyman. Sometimes I do rock, sometimes I do rap. At times of distress a particular piece can allow the soul to sing with grief, and there is comfort in the singing. Years later, that piece can retrieve precious memories.

But mostly, it’s people. No man is should be entirely an island. If we are lucky we are in an archipelago of friendship, with bridges here and there: stepping stones to recovery when times are bad.

It’s real people. Flesh and blood. Warts and all. I don’t need superheroes. Joy and peace can come from fiction as long as the fictional remains so. There is no man of steel, no man of iron. There is no Zeus, no Thor, no Loki, no Satan. There is no Jesus. There is a story of Jesus, a Frankenstein’s monster of a story, build of the rotting corpses of the tales of Amen-Ra, of Dionysus, of Hercules, of Mithra. A story constructed in a time when virgin births and temporary deaths were surprisingly common.

If you want a myth, build your own. There is enough wonder and heroism in the lives of those around you. Worship the men who died saving lives on 9/11. Sing praises to doctors working to save lives amongst the poor and hungry. Celebrate those who march for the rights of women in countries where men of faith rule.

These people give me great hope, and they have done more for the world than any fictional God-son ever did.

Posted: March 3rd 2011

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flagellant www

I find comfort in the peace, and joy of knowing that I am not easily hoodwinked, that I don’t believe in the supernatural, that faith is gullibility, that blasphemy is a victimless crime, and that prayer is talking to yourself.

And I wonder why you imagine that, just because your belief makes you feel better, that it has anything to do with its truth value. As you cling to your metaphorical comfort blanket, consider the sum total of human knowledge – vast and expanding – against an ancient compendium of stories, of doubtful provenance, 'massaged’ for effect, and quite unbelievable to anyone of a scientific bent.

And finally, what makes you think that things 'will work out for your good’? Why do you suppose that your imaginary friend has your good in mind? Don’t you just put yourself in his/her/its hands and hope? If something horrible happens to you, do you think 'That’s God’s will so it must be good’, even though it’s dire? Please consider the strong possibility that you are guilty of wishful thinking…

Posted: March 3rd 2011

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logicel

On a day to day basis I do not exactly focus on that everything will be OK or not—I just do what I need to do to the best of available knowledge and help. Then I reevaluate and take it from there. My developed skill set gives me confidence that I have a fighting chance to progress. If not, then I accept that reality. I know I am finite.

Living is a process which I accept with its warts and joys. History shows how resilient humans are, and I take inspiration and gratitude from that fact. I also recognize that I belong to just one species of many on this planet and embrace that I am a functional part of the whole ecosystem.

Posted: March 3rd 2011

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